Tottenham Hotspur 1 Manchester United 3: Ferguson grateful as champions ride their luck to beat Spurs

Sir Alex Ferguson admitted Manchester United had been forced to dig deep as they overcame a poor first-half display to win at Tottenham and keep the pressure on leaders Manchester City.

A first-half header from Wayne Rooney against the run of play and a brace from England team-mate Ashley Young in the second period took the champions back to within two points of City with 11 games left.

The win also widened the gap between United and third-placed Spurs to 11 points, all-but ending the London club’s faint title hopes as Jermain Defoe’s late consolation goal was as good as it got for them.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Emmanuel Adebayor also had a first-half ‘goal’ disallowed, apparently for a handball after the ball struck him while standing virtually on the goalline.

Ferguson felt his team rode their luck but believes their determination to win despite not playing at their best underlined their credentials to defend the title.

He said: “It was a great performance by Tottenham and maybe we got our tactics wrong in the first half. In the second half we improved, we told them at half-time to get pushed up on their back four and not let them build up their play. After the second goal we played very well.

“We had a bit of luck, and we scored right on half-time with our first shot on goal.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We’ve played all the big teams since January; it was a really busy spell and we’ve come through that and played well in most of the games. We showed a determination to get the result, the goalkeeper (David De Gea) made a fantastic save in the second half.

“Tottenham are a very good team and this is only their second defeat at home since the start of the season. It was a massive result and a massive performance from our defenders.”

The Manchester derby at the Etihad Stadium on April 30 looks ever more like the title decider, and Ferguson added: “We know exactly what we have to do. You can drop surprise points and I think both sides will, but the important thing is to drop less points than our opponents. A battling performance (yesterday) tells you that we are up for it.”

Spurs boss Harry Redknapp said he was at a loss to understand how they had lost. “I couldn’t believe we came in 1-0 down,” he admitted.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Jake Livermore and Sandro were top class. Really there was only one team who should have been in front at half-time and we came in 1-0 down.

“I couldn’t have asked more from the players. Sometimes you need the luck and we didn’t get any.”